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Collections - MF 026 “Islands and Bridges: Communities of Memory in Old Town, Maine”

Number of Interviews: 31
Dates when interviews were conducted: 1993-1994
Time period covered: 1890s-1990s
Principal interviewers: Amy Bouchard Morin, James Bishop, Adeline (Connie) St. Louis, Carol Nichols, Alan Comeau, Albert Michaud, Genie Wollstadt, and Barbara Ouellette
Finding Aides: transcripts
Access Restrictions: none

Description: A 1992 community-based oral history project co-sponsored by the Maine Folklife Center and the Franco-American Center at the University of Maine generated a series of 35 interviews focusing on the French Canadian immigrant community located on French Island, Old Town, Maine. The interviews focused on many subjects including French Island culture and history, family history, neighborhood relationships, and childhood experiences. This project led to the book, Nos Histoires de l’Ile: History and Memories of French Island, Old Town, Maine.

2431 Rosalie (Rose) Bosse Flanagan and Flora Bosse interviewed by Adeline (Connie) St. Louis, Yvonne Ouellette, and Betty Maderos, November 22, 1993, in Old Town, Maine. 34 page transcript. The two sisters talk about growing up on French Island in Old Town; family history; emigration from Canada; neighbors; swimming; ball games; food shopping on the Island; ice and milk delivery; parents’ work; Great Depression; changes on the Island; vegetable gardens; keeping pigs and chickens; Christmas celebrations; French food; St. Joseph School; speaking French at home and school; buying and making clothes; funeral customs and wakes; bootlegging and homebrew; tobacco use; present-day use of French, and extent to which their children’s generation speak French. Tape: C1481

2759 Benoit Bouchard interviewed by Amy Bouchard Morin, May 24, 1993, at his home in Old Town, Maine. 15 page transcript. Bouchard talks about family history; emigration from Canada to Old Town; businesses on French Island and work opportunities off the Island; his father’s ice cream parlor and confectionery store; Forth of July celebrations; baseball and other games; growing up with, and recovering from, polio paralysis; speaking French at home and English at school; houses on the Island; cutting and storing ice; electricity on the Island; work and recreation on the Penobscot River. Tape: C1482

2760 Benoit Bouchard interviewed by James J. Bishop and Amy Bouchard Morin, August 19, 1993, at his home in Old Town, Maine. 29 page transcript. Bouchard discusses the use of French on French Island, 1914-1920; starting school and learning to speak English; music; operation that allowed him to walk; World War Two ration stamps; interior layout of the school; having to speak English in school; effect of language barrier on educational opportunities; Helen Hunt school; playing violin in a traveling orchestra, at dances in the area; introduction of radio to the area in 1920s; Old Town High School and Machias Normal School; prejudice against Catholics; St. Joseph’s church; teaching at Herbert Gray school in Old Town; flu epidemic of 1918; changes on the Island after World War Two. Tape: C1483 – C1484

2761 Benoit Bouchard, Bernard (Bing) Bouchard, Albert (Bert) Morin, Walter Nadeau, and Beatrice Morin interviewed by Amy Bouchard Morin, February 18, 1994, at Albert and Amy Morin’s home in Old Town, Maine. 45 page transcript. The group reminisces about life on French Island, including: family relationships; where specific families lived; stores; carpenter work; Great Depression; prices; homebrew, bootlegging, and Prohibition; nicknames; music and dances; cutting and storing ice from the river; coal and grain from the railroad; cellar flooding; property ownership and land use on the island; drainage and sewers; food packaging, barrels and boxes of pickles, crackers, molasses, etc.; buying gasoline; driving in the 1920s; stretching candy; smoking; buying houses in the 1940s and 1950s; fishing; delivering mail; nosy neighbors; funerals; helpful neighbors; college students. Tape: C1485 – C1486

2762 John Bouchard and Benoit Bouchard interviewed by Amy Bouchard Morin, October 19, 1993, at Benoit’s home in Old Town, Maine. 28 page transcript. The Bouchard brothers talk about French Island: neighbors; businesses; school on the Island and teacher’s names; interior layout of the school; schoolyard games; recipe for home-made lemon, onion, and honey cough medicine; family relationships and mother’s death; watching fights between Orono and French Island young men; boxing; children’s work and play; relationships with neighbors; John’s brush with tuberculosis; time at Maine Maritime Academy and joining the Coast Guard. Tape: C1487 – C1488

2763 Norman Brilliant interviewed by Amy Bouchard Morin, August 25, 1993, at his home in Old Town, Maine. Also present, Benoit Bouchard. 18 page transcript. Brilliant discusses life on French Island; father’s work; neighbors; businesses; swimming in the Penobscot River; St. Joseph’s school and coming home for lunch; food; Christmas; children’s and adult’s entertainment; Fourth of July; Helen Hunt school; English and French at home and school; World War Two in the Pacific; outhouses; weddings on Mondays; funerals; LaBree’s bakery. Tape: C1489

2764 Lucienne Cloutier interviewed by Carol Nichols and Adeline (Connie) St. Louis, August 2, 1993, in Old Town, Maine. 12 page transcript. Cloutier talks about living on French Island; neighbors; animals; stores; meeting her husband and moving onto French Island; emigration from Canada to the Lewiston mills, then to a farm in Old Town; Great Depression; names; Pea Cove school; woolen mill in Old Town; children’s entertainment; peddlers; holidays; traditional foods; boxing and baseball games; changes on the Island. Tape: C1490

2765 Eva Collins interviewed by Carol Nichols and Adeline (Connie) St. Louis, November 22, 1993, in Old Town, Maine. 15 page transcript. Collins discusses moving to French Island after her marriage; LaBree’s bakery; other stores and businesses; speaking French; neighbors; adult’s and children’s entertainment; holidays; blood sausages (boudin); boxing; Great Depression; Prohibition and homebrew; changes on the Island. Tape: C1491

2766 Patrick Crowley interviewed by Alan Comeau, September 21, & October 20, 1993, at the Shuffle Inn in Old Town, Maine. 28 page transcript. Crowley talks about life on French Island; family reunions and genealogy; businesses on the Island; St. Joseph’s school; crossing the ice; swimming and the booms on the Penobscot river; changes in winter weather; children’s work and recreation; neighborhood relationships; getting married; Christmas; mother’s divorce; feelings about his religion; working at the University; Saturday baths; Father John’s tonic; lighting a candle to pray; bars on French Island. Tapes: C1492 – C1493

2767 Yvonne Shorette Currier interviewed by Carol Nichols and Adeline (Connie) St. Louis, November 22, 1993, at her home in Old Town, Maine. 25 page transcript. Currier was born on French Island in 1908, and she discusses St. Joseph’s school and the Island school; friends and family; children’s games; French at home and English at school; parent’s work; traditional foods; Silver Slipper dance hall; changes on the Island; Christmas; family names of French Islanders; movie theaters; peddlers, including the ice man; nicknames; homebrew and bootlegging. Tape: C1494

2768 Albert Michaud, Walter Simon, Rand Trembly, and Ernest Dubay interviewed by James Bishop, February 25, 1994, in Old Town, Maine. The group talks about their experiences and memories of growing up on French Island. Topics include: sports and games, especially softball, boxing (the fights); scrounging donuts under the Milford bridge; swimming in the Penobscot River; conflict between St. Joseph’s school children and the Island school children and between Islanders and Old Town; religious curriculum at St. Joseph’s school; basketball; nicknames; Helen Hunt Junior High; newspapers; stores and taverns on the Island; work & factory jobs; food in the Great Depression; funerals, floods, and neighborliness; holidays, esp. Fourth of July and Mardi Gras; milk delivery; getting a driver’s license; speaking French. Tapes: C1495 – C1496

2769 Clayton Landry interviewed by Albert Michaud, October 6, 1993, at his home in Old Town, Maine. 20 page transcript. Landry discusses moving to French Island; boxing matches; neighbors; the Shuffle Inn; grocery stores; cutting ice from the Penobscot River; entertainment and children’s games; changing French names to English; St. Joseph’s school; children’s economic activities; community garbage disposal; pulp-wood river drives; heating (or not) with wood stoves; holidays; Catholic Order of Foresters; Ku Klux Klan; and his service in World War Two. Tape: C1497

2770 Patrick (Leo) Lagasse interviewed by Carol Nichols, June 4 or 6, 1993, at his home in Westbrook, Maine. 15 page partial transcript. Lagasse talks about his memories of French Island in Old Town; nicknames; French and the French Island school; factory and mill work; Great Depression; dairy farming and milk as part of the daily diet; cutting ice from the Penobscot River; lumberyard on Hildreth Street; polio; Benoit Bouchard and Herbert Gray School; children’s and adult’s entertainment; grocery stores; Great Depression and WPA work; Old Town airport; Monday wash day; boxing matches; plumbing and the first bathtub on French Island; automobiles; Prohibition, homebrew, and bootleggers; shining shoes at the University of Maine; and World War Two. Tapes: C1498 – C1499

2771 Albert Michaud and Rita England Michaud interviewed by Carol Nichols, July 27, 1993, at their home in Old Town, Maine. 18 page transcript. The Michauds discuss early memories of French Island; children’s entertainment and games; why French Island was once called Skin Island; city dump; Shuffle Inn; softball; boxers; schools; meals; gardens; Mardi Gras and Lent; community and neighboring; Great Depression; 1936 flood; bootlegging; hunting, raising, selling, and eating rabbits and deer; and stores on the Island. Tape: C1500

2772 Albert and Bernice Morin interviewed by Amy Bouchard Morin, August 27, 1993, at their home in Old Town, Maine. Also present, Benoit Bouchard. 23 page transcript. The Morins talk about family history; parent’s immigration from Canada to French Island; schools; neighbors; children’s entertainment; holidays; work, at lumber mill, and factories; Great Depression and WPA work; funerals and weddings; boxing and softball; LaBree’s bakery and other French Island businesses; World War Two; automobiles and roads; women’s textile crafts; arrival of electricity; prices; clothing; peddlers; and the 1918 flu epidemic. Tape: C1501

2773 Rachel Hortense Morin interviewed by Amy Bouchard Morin, July 29, 1993, in Orono, Maine. Also present, Benoit Bouchard. 21 page transcript. Rachel Morin reminisces about living on French Island in Old Town. Interviewee frequently lapses into French. Topics include: family history; neighbors; games and entertainment; businesses; nicknames; meals; Christmas; family relationships and economic activities; learning English in school; St. Joseph’s School and the nuns; and nuns and priests from French Island. Tape: C1502

2774 Bella Nadeau interviewed by Carol Nichols, 1993, at her home in Old Town, Maine. 16 page transcript. Nadeau talks about growing up on French Island in Old Town, including: movie theaters and music; St. Joseph’s school; sawmill; stores and restaurants; LaBree’s bakery; playmates and children’s games; night school for adults; dangers of trains; delivering milk to the neighborhood; mourning customs; saw mills and woolen mill; wash day; and plumbing. Tape: C1503

2775 Gloria Thornton and Doris Nadeau interviewed by Albert Michaud, November 1993, at the Thornton’s home in Milford, Maine. 18 page transcripts. The two sisters reminisce with their younger brother, Albert Michaud, about growing up on French Island in Old Town. Topics include: schools; swimming and boating on the Penobscot river; bathing suits; Fourth of July; river drives of logs and pulpwood; New Year’s celebration; businesses on the Island; Prohibition and bootlegging; nicknames; prejudice against the French; ice skating and sledding; Lent and saying the rosary; sewing circles; taking in boarders; neighborhood relationships; changing French names to English; and the Shuffle Inn. Tape: C1504

2776 Walter Nadeau interviewed by Genie Wollstadt, December 9, 1993, at his home in Old Town, Maine. 21 page transcript. Nadeau talks about growing up on French Island in Old Town; parent’s work; schools; children’s games; father’s grocery store; community telephone; transportation and transition to automobiles; businesses on the Island; 1934 flood; neighbors; funerals and weddings; medicine and doctors; sewing circles; 4th of July; employment opportunities in the Old Town area; and the Great Depression. Tape: C1505

2777 Meledore Ouellette interviewed by Barbara Ouellette, 1994, at her home on French Island in Old Town, Maine. 10 page transcript. Ouellette discusses her memories of French Island. Topics include: the locations of houses and businesses; LaBree’s bakery; stores on the Island; funerals; neighborhood relationships; keeping animals for food; jobs; food; boxing; Shuffle Inn; baseball games; and swimming. Tape: C1506

2778 Melvina Paradis interviewed by Amy Bouchard Morin, June 11, 1993, at her home on French Island in Old Town, Maine. 11 page transcript. Also present, Benoit Bouchard and Velma Paradis. Melvina Paradis discusses her experiences on French Island; family history; her parent’s work; schools on the Island and off; World War One; getting teeth pulled before dentists; cooking, growing, and preserving food; sewing circle; Catholic churches in town; arrival of electricity and running water; neighborhood relationships; and weddings. Tape: C1507

2779 Cecile Pietrowski interviewed by Carol Nichols and Adeline (Connie) St. Louis, August 14, 1993, in Old Town, Maine. 16 page partial transcript. Pietrowski talks about her experiences living on French Island in Old Town, Maine. Topics include: short cuts; building patterns; bootlegging and home brew; Great Depression and food; women’s baseball; boxing; nicknames; children’s entertainment; holidays and traditional food; changes on the Island; women working outside the home; Shuffle Inn; why it was once called Skin Island; LaBree’s bakery; churches and schools; father’s work as a policeman. Tape: C1508

2780 Joseph C. “Spike” Richard interviewed by Amy Bouchard Morin and Benoit Morin, July 29, 1994, at his home in Bradley, Maine. 19 page transcript. Richard talks about growing up on French Island in Old Town; and his involvement in the boxing matches held on the Island. Other topics include: schools; family relationships; his time in the CCC; children’s entertainment; parent’s work; traditional food; electricity; homebrew; and World War Two, with the National Guard in Florida and New Zealand. Tapes: C1509 – C1510

2781 Rebecca St. Louis Paul interviewed by Carol Nichols and Adeline (Connie) St. Louis, June, 1993, about French Island, Old Town, Maine. 12 page transcript. Paul discusses schools; children’s entertainment; neighborhood relationships; holidays, including Lent, Halloween, Christmas; camping; food traditions; stores; and changes on the Island. Tape: C1511

2782 Estelle Voter and Henrietta Taylor interviewed by Albert Michaud, December 3, 1993, in Eddington, Maine. 16 page transcript. The two sisters discuss life on French Island in Old Town, Maine. Topics include: family relationships and history; children’s entertainment; childbirth; schools; 1936 flood; funerals and mourning customs; holidays, especially New Year’s Eve, Christmas, Mardi Gras, dating customs; Skin Island; woolen mill; boxing; and blood stoppers. Tape: C1512

2783 Betty Thibodeau Medieros interviewed by Carol Nichols and Adeline (Connie) St. Louis, November 17, 1993, at her home in Old Town, Maine. 17 page transcript. Medieros reminisces about growing up on French Island. Topics include: neighborhood relationships; family history; holidays; children’s entertainment; nicknames; Shuffle Inn and stores on the Island; religious observances; Christmas; traditional foods; mother’s work for wages; downtown Old Town; end of World War Two; and changes on the Island. Tape: C1513

2784 Marion Guay and Gloria Thornton interviewed by Albert Michaud, May 12, 1994, at Guay’s home in Old Town, Maine. 13 page transcript. Guay and Thornton talk about French Island; schools; children’s work; neighborhood and family relationships; women’s work for wages; Great Depression; and blood stoppers. Tape: C1514

2785 Bernice Morin, Betty Labretton, Flora Bosse, and Pauline Baillargeon interviewed by Carol Nichols and Adeline (Connie) St. Louis, March 2, 1994, in Old Town, Maine. Also present, Albert Morin. 38 page transcript. The group of women discuss life on French Island; traditional foods; Great Depression; nicknames; stores; movie theaters; schools; baseball; boxing; childbirth; Christmas; neighborhood relationships; children’s and adult’s entertainment; and changing French names to English. Tapes: C1515 – C1516

2786 Letter from Christina Bouchard Duplissa to her cousin Amy Bouchard Morin, December 15, 1994. This letter contains reminiscences about Duplissa’s early years on French Island in Old Town, Maine, between 1939 and 1950. She recalls children’s games and other entertainment; and neighborhood relationships.

2787 Combination of excerpts from several letters written by Van Geroux to Leona Taylor (March 12, 1991), and Lelia Richards (several during 1994-1995). In these excerpts, Geroux reminisces about life on French Island in Old Town, Maine. Topics include: the Shuffle Inn; baseball; children’s entertainment; boxing; grocery stores; French Island characters; an extensive list of nicknames; taverns, barbershops, lumber yard, and railroad; street cleaners; movie theaters; priests; horses; feeding and butchering pigs; skiing; pickling and canning food; and bean-hole beans.

2788 Eugene Beaulieu interviewed by Albert Michaud, November 16, 1994, at his home in Milford, Maine. 15 page transcript. Beaulieu remembers growing up on French Island in Old Town, including family history; schools; neighborhood relationships; softball; speaking French; children’s entertainment; parent’s work; changing French names to English; and placement of houses on French Island. Tape: C1521


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